Council Tables Discussion On Changes To Smoking Ordinance; Marquis II Representative Speaks At Special Meeting

August 11, 2008

Discussion concerning changes to West U.’s smoking ordinance fizzled out at a special council meeting Monday night, after council members heard from the general manager of the only bar in West U.

Mayor Bob Kelly said he asked that the item be up for discussion because it was an issue that has been getting a lot of attention in other cities.

“I understand that our smoking ordinance was more of the first generation smoking ordinances that came out in cities,” said Kelly.

Currently, West U.’s ordinance still allows smoking in West U.’s lone bar, the Marquis II at 2631 Bissonnet. The City of Houston banned smoking in all bars on Sept. 1, 2007.

The Marquis’ General Manager Al Jara told council he thought banning smoking at the bar would have a negative affect on the homes behind the bar.

“We have been in the community for almost 25 years,” said Jara. “We are kind of an enigma to the community. Once the (Houston’s) smoking ordinance came down Sept. 1, everyone realized we were in the City of West U.”

Jara told council that when the homes were built backing up to the bar’s property, there were complaints about the noise from the bar. He said they have addressed that problem, and on busy nights have deputies who clear the parking lot.

“The problem I foresee happening is we would have to have an area for people to smoke (outside), which would just have them (the residents of the homes) calling the police more. They (the customers) would be outside smoking – we are open until 2 a.m., it will be loud. If I put them in the front, I don’t think West U. wants to drive by seeing a bunch of people outside flicking cigarettes. I foresee it being a problem with the customers outside smoking.”

Kelly said he has not heard of any complaints about the current ordinance, and the idea was tabled.

Jara said he was relieved at the outcome of the meeting, but concerned it would come up again. Jara said small bars like the Marquis are going under everywhere, and that people began boycotting going out during the week once smoking was banned in Houston.

“I am even more worried for the residents behind us,” said Jara, was added that as the only bar in the city, if council banned smoking in bars “they would be doing it just for us.”

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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